By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — City councilors voted 10-1 tonight to approve Mayor Kim Driscoll's financing proposal for a planned community/senior center at the corner of Boston and Bridge streets.
Councilor-at-large Arthur Sargent was the lone vote in opposition.
Councilors Michael Sosnowksi and Jerry Ryan, who voted against locating the senior center at Boston and Bridge Streets in 2009, changed their positions tonight and favored the project.
Ryan, the council president, worked with Driscoll today to include three amendments to the senior center plan: the hiring of a full-time Council on Aging director to work at the new center, requiring the developer to begin construction within the next year, and including an agreement with the developer that the city would be "held harmless" if anyone were to become sick from previous contamination at the site.
"I've been saying no, no, no," Ryan said about changing his mind. "I've thought of what people have said and the emails I've received."
The road to a new senior center in Salem has been long and controversial. Multiple locations have been considered over the tenure of several mayors.
The mayor's financing plan — a bond — was the final OK needed to build the Gateway Center, a public/private development that would include offices, 374 parking spaces and a 20,000-square-foot community center.
For full details, see Friday's Salem News.